LONG OVERDUE: a Fresh Look at Public Attitudes about Libraries in the 21st Century

by Jing Liu ~ June 16th, 2006. Filed under: News & Announcement.

A message from Diantha Dow Schull (President of Americans for Libraries Council)

What do Americans think of libraries in the age of the Internet? We thought we’d ask, so we engaged Public Agenda to conduct a major national public opinion study. We are delighted to share the final report with you today. For a copy of Long Overdue: A Fresh Look at Public and Leadership Attitudes About Libraries in the 21st Century, as well as an overview and fact sheets of interest, please visit http://www.lff.org/long_overdue061306.htmlA glimpse into the results:
* As you might guess, libraries top the list of public services receiving an “A” grade, ahead even of police and schools;
* More than half the public (52%) would rather raise taxes than cut library services or charge fees for them;
* 9 in 10 Americans believe that libraries will be needed in the future, regardless of technological developments.
But along with the good news comes a wake-up call to the library community:
* Engaged citizens who vote in local elections and care deeply about libraries are no more likely than others to support libraries financially, or to advocate for their well-being — they simply don’t know that library funding may be in jeopardy;
* Elected officials recognize that communities trust libraries, but they do not fully employ (or fund) libraries to solve pressing community problems — problems that libraries are uniquely positioned to help resolve.
The report concludes by identifying four specific challenges that libraries could help communities meet, allowing them to fill a vital community need while simultaneously positioning themselves as funding priorities for elected officials:
* Providing a safe and engaging space for teens;
* Supporting adult literacy and other components of workforce development;
* Expanding access to the Internet and other uses of technology;
* Becoming a community hub, making government forms and services easily available.

2 Responses to LONG OVERDUE: a Fresh Look at Public Attitudes about Libraries in the 21st Century

  1.   Jing

    This is fascinating, even ahead of schools! That’s because of our profession, always service oriented and focusing on life-long learning.

    This reminded me a long distant phone call I received today from Beijing. I was amazed to hear that China started to build community libraries and librarians desperately need North American experience. I read a newspaper article a couple of years ago, there was a library built and open to serve the public in every 3.5 days in China.

    When do you think Chinese libraries will receive this kind of ranking among public services? Can we do something to help?

  2.   Lei Zhu

    I visited quite a few fantastic and modern public libraries in big cities such as Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou in China. But the community libraries fall far behind in these cities. A long way to catch up.

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